The Skurfs
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The Skurfs

Missoula, Montana, United States

Missoula, Montana, United States
Band Rock

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"Smash Therapy"

Nobody watching The Skurfs at a recent Northside house party seemed prepared for the chaos that followed frontman Gavin McCourt's decision to obliterate his cherry-red Stratocaster against the hardwood floor. It wasn't a sedentary crowd. The kegs were already finished and the blissfully intoxicated stood shoulder to shoulder in rapt attention as the local surf-rock group hammered away at their instruments, crafting its trademark spacey, reverb-laden sounds in the corner of the room. But the energy built like a tornado, and it's hard to remember what came first: the shattered Strat or the mosh pit that whipped into a frenzy, sending the weak-of-heart searching for an exit as others crowd surfed from one end of the room to the other and beer rained down from above.

Weeks later, McCourt sits across a table from me at Bernice's Bakery, adjusting his horn-rimmed glasses and glancing out the window as we talk. It's hard to believe the calm, almost detached 28-year-old is the same person I recently watched stand on top of his amp clutching splinters of a broken guitar while the feedback was nearly drowned out by the rabid howls of inebriated college kids.
"It's a catharsis, I guess," he says. "It just gets to that point where something has to give. It's like you're running up a hill and you see the top and you just book it because you're so stoked you did it. You just get that last manic push of extreme energy."

That energy has been consistent with McCourt's performances. I've seen him smash three guitars while performing in various bands over the past five years. Fellow Skurfs guitarist Dan Venturella has wreaked his own havoc on amps and guitars during shows. In fact, The Skurfs build so much tension in their songs that even an unseasoned audience anticipates that something is about to happen.

Not to say that the entertaining display of smashing instruments is all the group has going for it. The band—which also includes bassist Sam Ore and the recent addition of new drummer Aaron Johnson—plays surf music, but it's a far cry from The Beach Boys' "Surfin' USA." The Skurfs are, after all, a Montana band with a bit of a chillier bite (ski + surf = skurf). They've reworked the classic surf sound into something like a tidal wave—heavy, psychedelic, and loud enough that, standing too close to the speakers, the vibrations could shake your teeth free from your gums.

The word "fun" comes up repeatedly during my conversation with McCourt, almost as a manifesto for the group.

"As far as the shows that I've enjoyed the most on a personal level, they're high energy," McCourt says. "People having fun, dancing, moving. It's an audio expression that can be physically emphasized while playing. I challenge people to dance at our shows, because I think it's one of those things in our genes that's such a unifying expression. I think people could stand to be more like kids again."

McCourt creates as interesting of a dynamic between intense and playful offstage as he does when he's performing. He plays with his recently purchased rubber "Sky Ball" ("These things can go 70 feet in the air," he exclaims) and jokes around with Venturella when his bandmate gets a break from his shift at the bakery, but waxes philosophical about his approach to music and is candid about his bitterness regarding the diplomacy of local venues.

"There's a healthy rock scene in this town, but...the expectation is that you're going to play for nothing, you're going to play for exposure," he says. "I think a lot of musicians say, 'Well, that's fine, we'll foot the bill anyways,' because that's what they want to do."

Add The Skurfs to that list of musicians, apparently. Having just put the finishing touches on their debut album, First Run, the group is gearing up to embark on a Northwest tour that doesn't promise to be lucrative, but, for McCourt and his bandmates, fills a need that is nearly spiritual in scope.

"I love coming up with a badass song or a badass riff, and to make a good record," he says. "But performing is just such a release. You're just a conduit for the 'other.' That's the best feeling ever."

The Skurfs play a CD release party at the Top Hat Friday, July 1, at 10 PM with Johnny Reno. - The Missoula Independent


"Smash Therapy"

Nobody watching The Skurfs at a recent Northside house party seemed prepared for the chaos that followed frontman Gavin McCourt's decision to obliterate his cherry-red Stratocaster against the hardwood floor. It wasn't a sedentary crowd. The kegs were already finished and the blissfully intoxicated stood shoulder to shoulder in rapt attention as the local surf-rock group hammered away at their instruments, crafting its trademark spacey, reverb-laden sounds in the corner of the room. But the energy built like a tornado, and it's hard to remember what came first: the shattered Strat or the mosh pit that whipped into a frenzy, sending the weak-of-heart searching for an exit as others crowd surfed from one end of the room to the other and beer rained down from above.

Weeks later, McCourt sits across a table from me at Bernice's Bakery, adjusting his horn-rimmed glasses and glancing out the window as we talk. It's hard to believe the calm, almost detached 28-year-old is the same person I recently watched stand on top of his amp clutching splinters of a broken guitar while the feedback was nearly drowned out by the rabid howls of inebriated college kids.
"It's a catharsis, I guess," he says. "It just gets to that point where something has to give. It's like you're running up a hill and you see the top and you just book it because you're so stoked you did it. You just get that last manic push of extreme energy."

That energy has been consistent with McCourt's performances. I've seen him smash three guitars while performing in various bands over the past five years. Fellow Skurfs guitarist Dan Venturella has wreaked his own havoc on amps and guitars during shows. In fact, The Skurfs build so much tension in their songs that even an unseasoned audience anticipates that something is about to happen.

Not to say that the entertaining display of smashing instruments is all the group has going for it. The band—which also includes bassist Sam Ore and the recent addition of new drummer Aaron Johnson—plays surf music, but it's a far cry from The Beach Boys' "Surfin' USA." The Skurfs are, after all, a Montana band with a bit of a chillier bite (ski + surf = skurf). They've reworked the classic surf sound into something like a tidal wave—heavy, psychedelic, and loud enough that, standing too close to the speakers, the vibrations could shake your teeth free from your gums.

The word "fun" comes up repeatedly during my conversation with McCourt, almost as a manifesto for the group.

"As far as the shows that I've enjoyed the most on a personal level, they're high energy," McCourt says. "People having fun, dancing, moving. It's an audio expression that can be physically emphasized while playing. I challenge people to dance at our shows, because I think it's one of those things in our genes that's such a unifying expression. I think people could stand to be more like kids again."

McCourt creates as interesting of a dynamic between intense and playful offstage as he does when he's performing. He plays with his recently purchased rubber "Sky Ball" ("These things can go 70 feet in the air," he exclaims) and jokes around with Venturella when his bandmate gets a break from his shift at the bakery, but waxes philosophical about his approach to music and is candid about his bitterness regarding the diplomacy of local venues.

"There's a healthy rock scene in this town, but...the expectation is that you're going to play for nothing, you're going to play for exposure," he says. "I think a lot of musicians say, 'Well, that's fine, we'll foot the bill anyways,' because that's what they want to do."

Add The Skurfs to that list of musicians, apparently. Having just put the finishing touches on their debut album, First Run, the group is gearing up to embark on a Northwest tour that doesn't promise to be lucrative, but, for McCourt and his bandmates, fills a need that is nearly spiritual in scope.

"I love coming up with a badass song or a badass riff, and to make a good record," he says. "But performing is just such a release. You're just a conduit for the 'other.' That's the best feeling ever."

The Skurfs play a CD release party at the Top Hat Friday, July 1, at 10 PM with Johnny Reno. - The Missoula Independent


"Sean Kelly's 'Top of the Mic' competition finals this weekend"

"After two months of performances by 131 local acts, Sean Kelly's "Top of the Mic" contest has narrowed the competition down to four finalists who will compete Saturday for the $1,000 top prize.

The finalists are Joshua Farmer, the Skurfs, Matt Hassler and Greenstar....

The Skurfs also faced some medical challenges during this competition. McBride broke his arm the day of the first show, making it difficult for him to play the guitar, but the accident ended up making this the group's best performance yet.

"I could only play without pain from the seventh fret up, so everything was an octave higher; we had to do a lot of different stuff," McBride said.

Since then, he's experimented with playing an octave higher than the band's other guitar player because it gives another element to their sound.

The Skurfs have only been playing together since January 23, but have gathered a good following since then. Band member Donny McBride describes their sound as ski surf, mountain surf or black surf because it has elements of heavy metal.

Hassler said the Skurfs were his favorite band to watch.

"They blow me away every time, the Buddy Holly thing and surf rock, it's pretty cool to be playing with them," he said." - Montana Kaimin


"Sean Kelly's 'Top of the Mic' competition finals this weekend"

"After two months of performances by 131 local acts, Sean Kelly's "Top of the Mic" contest has narrowed the competition down to four finalists who will compete Saturday for the $1,000 top prize.

The finalists are Joshua Farmer, the Skurfs, Matt Hassler and Greenstar....

The Skurfs also faced some medical challenges during this competition. McBride broke his arm the day of the first show, making it difficult for him to play the guitar, but the accident ended up making this the group's best performance yet.

"I could only play without pain from the seventh fret up, so everything was an octave higher; we had to do a lot of different stuff," McBride said.

Since then, he's experimented with playing an octave higher than the band's other guitar player because it gives another element to their sound.

The Skurfs have only been playing together since January 23, but have gathered a good following since then. Band member Donny McBride describes their sound as ski surf, mountain surf or black surf because it has elements of heavy metal.

Hassler said the Skurfs were his favorite band to watch.

"They blow me away every time, the Buddy Holly thing and surf rock, it's pretty cool to be playing with them," he said." - Montana Kaimin


"Confirmation: The Skurfs"

CONFIRMATION: THE SKURFS
They say you can never go home... unless you plan to meet new friends, play music and become the best music-promoting machine this side of the Yellowstone. So long as you've not been living under a scree slope (or outside of Missoula) for the past 6 months or so, you've heard The Skurfs. Whether you're running a 5K, slurping beers in any one of Missoula's downtown taverns, or tuning in to KBGA... The Skurfs get around. No stranger to Missoula's music scene, lead Skurf, "Donny McBride" dove back in head first upon arriving home from a stint in Austin, TX.

The Skurfs claim that they are the first (that they know of) Ski/Surf band to exist in this world. They draw inspiration from both the exhilaration of winter sporting in Montana and the unique excitement created by the tunes of Dick Dale, Link Ray, Thee Hedons, the Ventures and so on. The Skurfs are tight, fun and ambitious like crazy. (The Skurfs tried their darnedest to break into the 2010 Winter Olympics) It's great to have these guys in Missoula, we're excited as an extra in Hot Dog to add them to this year's line-up! The Skurfs, people. The Skurfs. - Total Fest Total Blog


"Confirmation: The Skurfs"

CONFIRMATION: THE SKURFS
They say you can never go home... unless you plan to meet new friends, play music and become the best music-promoting machine this side of the Yellowstone. So long as you've not been living under a scree slope (or outside of Missoula) for the past 6 months or so, you've heard The Skurfs. Whether you're running a 5K, slurping beers in any one of Missoula's downtown taverns, or tuning in to KBGA... The Skurfs get around. No stranger to Missoula's music scene, lead Skurf, "Donny McBride" dove back in head first upon arriving home from a stint in Austin, TX.

The Skurfs claim that they are the first (that they know of) Ski/Surf band to exist in this world. They draw inspiration from both the exhilaration of winter sporting in Montana and the unique excitement created by the tunes of Dick Dale, Link Ray, Thee Hedons, the Ventures and so on. The Skurfs are tight, fun and ambitious like crazy. (The Skurfs tried their darnedest to break into the 2010 Winter Olympics) It's great to have these guys in Missoula, we're excited as an extra in Hot Dog to add them to this year's line-up! The Skurfs, people. The Skurfs. - Total Fest Total Blog


"Total Fest IX: Notes from the mosh pit"

"The Skurfs, then, were the first band to play the Palace for Total Fest this year. It’s been a long time since I’ve heard a good surf rock band, but these dapper rockers decked out in formalwear filled the void, drawing in the early Palace crowd with their blazing instrumentals. " - The MIssoula Independent


"Total Fest IX: Notes from the mosh pit"

"The Skurfs, then, were the first band to play the Palace for Total Fest this year. It’s been a long time since I’ve heard a good surf rock band, but these dapper rockers decked out in formalwear filled the void, drawing in the early Palace crowd with their blazing instrumentals. " - The MIssoula Independent


Discography

"Mountain Surf" LP - Self Released

"Blue Square" is on rotation at both 89.9 KBGA Missoula College Radio and 103.3 The Trail FM.

Photos

Bio

The Skurfs were born on January 23rd, 2010 after Donny McBride and Danny Venture set out to shoot photographs and guns in a ghost town in the middle of Montana's Big Belt Mountain Range. While shooting, they discussed their mutual love of Black Sabbath and Pink Floyd's "Piper at the Gates of Dawn" and, most of all, their obsession with surf music. While looking south at a great ski hill, and watching the small figures of skiers and snowboarders descend the mountain, they realized that though land-locked, they could still find inspiration for the high energy instrumentals pioneered by the surf godfathers. Thus, "skurf," or ski-surf was born. Once joined by bassist Sammy Hepburn and drummer Aaron "Trickshot" Johnson III, the Skurfs set out to define the new genre they created. Not only influenced by surf music, they took cues from early rock and roll, 60's psychedelia, punk, noise and post-rock. This amalgamation of sound defines skurf music and it's founders, the Skurfs.